Former death row inmate indicted on second-degree aggravated assault in altercation with fellow inmate

Carnell Petetan Jr.. 46
Carnell Petetan Jr.. 46(McLennan County Jail)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:21 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A McLennan County grand jury indicted former death row inmate US Carnell Petetan Jr. Wednesday on charges he slashed another McLennan County Jail inmate’s neck with a razor blade.

Petetan was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2014 after a 19th State District Court jury convicted him of capital murder in the 2012 death of his estranged wife. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated his death sentence in May 2021 and Petetan was returned to the McLennan County Jail to await a new sentencing trial in July 2021.

The grand jury indicted Petetan, 46, on a second-degree felony aggravated assault charge in a Jan. 5 incident at the jail in which he reportedly cut jail inmate Courtney Deshun Gibson during an altercation that was captured on jail surveillance video.

An arrest affidavit alleges that Petetan and Gibson had “issues” and that Petetan sliced Gibson’s neck and right cheek with a razor blade. Gibson’s injuries did not require hospitalization, according to the affidavit.

The Court of Criminal Appeals did not overturn Petetan’s capital murder conviction. However, his trial attorneys offered evidence of Petetan’s IQ and neurological problems that their expert witnesses said made Petetan intellectually disabled and ineligible for the death penalty.

Prosecutors presented witnesses to rebut Petetan’s intellectual disability claim. But the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled “the jury’s rejection of Petetan’s affirmative defense of intellectual disability was against the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence,” and the court set aside his death sentence.

Petetan, a Port Arthur native, was convicted of breaking into his estranged wife’s Lake Shore Drive apartment and shooting her in front of her daughter and two men who rode from South Texas with him in September 2012.

Judge Thomas West has an Aug. 18 status conference set in Petetan’s case. No trial date is set.

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